Steve Englert is an assistant coach at Boston College. Each week, he will provide a journal of the previous week's happenings from Chestnut Hill.






Feb. 25, 2003

Working the Kinks Out


We departed Boston on Thursday, Feb. 20, leaving behind a 2-foot blanket of snow, and arrived in the balmy weather of Charleston, S.C., to play in The Citadel Crab House Challenge. As I stepped off the plane, I was hit in the face with that warm southern breeze - the season is here! After a month of workouts and scrimmages against each other, everyone was fired up to finally play someone in a different uniform.

The next day, we opened the tourney against N.C. State, a tough, quality opponent and a good test for us. There are always those first-game jitters present, but good pitching can be a calming influence, and our starting lefty, Kevin Shepard, gave us just that, not allowing a hit through three innings. We scored early and led 2-0 into the fourth.

Leadoff walks always come back to bite you, and we were bitten in the bottom of the inning. Shep almost battled through the free pass, but with two outs and a runner on third, a balk (scoring State's first run), an error and a two-run jack later, we found ourselves down 3-2.

State scored again in the sixth to increase its lead to 4-2. In the top of the seventh, we had our chances to score but came up empty. If our catcher, Garrett Greer, had eaten one more egg at breakfast, he would have tied the game on a lob-wedge shot to deep center, but it fell 2 feet short. In the ninth, we managed to scratch across a run to make it 4-3, but the game ended with us having runners on first and second.

On Saturday, we drew the early game again, this time against Kentucky. The flags on top of the batter’s eye were pinned as there was a heavy wind gusting in. We took BP, emphasizing working the top half, keeping the ball on the ground. Balls in the air would be no good on this day. Our hitters did a good job executing our offensive game plan and played error-free throughout.

The game was a see-saw battle with several lead changes. The Bat Cats broke a 4-4 tie in the bottom of the eighth on a squeeze play and stayed on top for good, winning 5-4.

Two tough one-run losses in which we out-hit our opponents, but the last time I checked, the "R" column outweighs the "H" column.

We did a good job getting runners over, but we couldn't get them in. Someone forgot to pack the big two-out hit on this trip. The guys are playing hard and the pitching has been solid, but we just can't get over the hump. Playing for the first time, the team was just not clicking yet. There were flashes of what the coaching staff expects out of this group, and we feel everything will iron itself out as the season progresses. We pondered these thoughts over dinner at Hymans Seafood Restaurant in historical downtown Charleston. Tomorrow was another day at the yard.                        
Our last game of the tourney was against a scrappy Drexel team. We fell behind early 5-0, but clawed back, scoring in the fourth and fifth. But, every time we were about to climb back in it, the Dragons had an answer. They put the ball in play and made things happen offensively. They had timely hitting and a great two-strike approach (something we beat over the heads of our guys constantly). Drexel won going away 11-6.
That’s three disheartening losses, but the positive out of it all is that we have three games under our belt. In playing outside for the first time, the kinks and rust are diminished, and we now have a feel for what guys can do. We showed signs of being a good team. The bar has been set with high expectations for the year. We need to get on a roll and start getting into gear, and the Spring Break trip should help enormously.

We’re packing the shorts and Tommy Bahama shirts for sunny Florida, hoping to string some wins together and change that goose egg in the "W" column.


Steve Englert

(photo courtesy of BC Media Relations Office)